Combining Philosophers

All the ideas for Alexander, Charles Taylor and Anaximander

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26 ideas

1. Philosophy / C. History of Philosophy / 2. Ancient Philosophy / b. Pre-Socratic philosophy
Anaximander produced the first philosophy book (and maybe the first book) [Anaximander, by Bodnár]
     Full Idea: Anaximander was the first to produce a philosophical book (later conventionally titled 'On Nature'), if not the first to produce a book at all.
     From: report of Anaximander (fragments/reports [c.570 BCE]) by István Bodnár - Anaximander
     A reaction: Wow! Presumably there were Egyptian 'books', but this still sounds like a stupendous claim to fame.
2. Reason / B. Laws of Thought / 2. Sufficient Reason
The earth is stationary, because it is in the centre, and has no more reason to move one way than another [Anaximander, by Aristotle]
     Full Idea: Something which is established in the centre and has equality in relation to the extremes has no more reason to move up than it has down or to the sides (so the earth is stationary)
     From: report of Anaximander (fragments/reports [c.570 BCE], A26) by Aristotle - On the Heavens 295b11
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 1. Nature of Existence
Anaximander saw the contradiction in the world - that its own qualities destroy it [Anaximander, by Nietzsche]
     Full Idea: Anaximander discovers the contradictory character of our world: it perishes from its own qualities.
     From: report of Anaximander (fragments/reports [c.570 BCE]) by Friedrich Nietzsche - Unpublished Writings 1872-74 19 [239]
     A reaction: A lovely gloss on Anaximander, though I am not sure that I understand what Nietzsche means.
16. Persons / A. Concept of a Person / 4. Persons as Agents
The modern self has disengaged reason, self-exploration, and personal commitment [Taylor,C]
     Full Idea: The modern notion of the self is defined by disengaged reason (with its associated freedom and dignity), by self-exploration, and by personal commitment.
     From: Charles Taylor (Sources of the Self [1989], §13.1)
     A reaction: Taylor makes a good case that this broader view of how the self is seen is as important as narrow debates about personal identity.
16. Persons / B. Nature of the Self / 2. Ethical Self
My aim is to map the connections between our sense of self and our moral understanding [Taylor,C]
     Full Idea: My entire way of proceeding involves mapping connections between the sense of the self and moral visions, between identity and the good.
     From: Charles Taylor (Sources of the Self [1989], Pref)
     A reaction: An interesting project. Modern brain research supports the idea that emotions and values are tightly integrated into al thought.
16. Persons / E. Rejecting the Self / 3. Narrative Self
I can only be aware of myself as a person who changes by means of my personal history [Taylor,C]
     Full Idea: As a being who grows and becomes I can only know myself through the history of my maturations and regressions, overcomings and defeats.
     From: Charles Taylor (Sources of the Self [1989], §2.3)
     A reaction: An important insight. My immediate sense of self makes my personal history central, not an extra. But a history must be a history OF something.
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 1. Nature of Ethics / b. Defining ethics
Selfhood and moral values are inextricably intertwined [Taylor,C]
     Full Idea: Selfhood and the good, or in another way selfhood and morality, turn out to be inextricably intertwined.
     From: Charles Taylor (Sources of the Self [1989], §1.1)
     A reaction: This seems an inevitable convergence of three centuries of thought about personal identity and morality.
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 3. Virtues / e. Honour
Willingness to risk life was the constitutive quality of the man of honour [Taylor,C]
     Full Idea: Willingness to risk life was the constitutive quality of the man of honour.
     From: Charles Taylor (Sources of the Self [1989], §13.1)
     A reaction: Which is why war is required. The growth of civil society meant the inevitable rise of other virtues.
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 3. Virtues / h. Respect
To have respect for people, you must feel their claims, or their injustices, or hold them in awe [Taylor,C]
     Full Idea: If you want to discriminate more finely what makes humans worthy of respect, you must call to mind the claim of human suffering, or what is repugnant about justice, or the awe you feel about human life.
     From: Charles Taylor (Sources of the Self [1989], §1.1)
     A reaction: A persuasive part of the claim that such feelings are inseparable from thinking about people in any way at all.
23. Ethics / D. Deontological Ethics / 4. Categorical Imperative
Consistency presupposes intrinsic description [Taylor,C]
     Full Idea: The issue of consistency presupposes intrinsic description.
     From: Charles Taylor (Sources of the Self [1989], §1.1)
     A reaction: This may be the key criticism of Kant. The so-called 'maxim' of an action can be almost infinitely re-expressed to suit the agent.
23. Ethics / E. Utilitarianism / 1. Utilitarianism
In later utilitarianism the modern stress on freedom leads to the rejection of paternalism [Taylor,C]
     Full Idea: In mature utilitarianism , the stress on modern freedom emerges in the rejection of paternalism.
     From: Charles Taylor (Sources of the Self [1989], §3.3)
     A reaction: This seems good; it is the beginnings of a rejection of paternalism. What is better, happiness or freedom? What is the value of freedom?
24. Political Theory / B. Nature of a State / 2. State Legitimacy / c. Social contract
The social contract sees society as constituted by and for individuals [Taylor,C]
     Full Idea: The social contract theory …has a vision of society as in some sense constituted by individuals for the fulfilment of ends which are primarily individual.
     From: Charles Taylor (Atomism [1979], p.29)
     A reaction: It seems to be initiated by individuals who are only motivated by what is in it for them. This presumes self-sufficient adults, rather than children, or parents with children, or dependent people. The epitome of liberalism, perhaps.
24. Political Theory / D. Ideologies / 7. Communitarianism / a. Communitarianism
Assigning a right based on a human capacity implies that the capacity should be developed [Taylor,C]
     Full Idea: It would be incomprehensible and incoherent to ascribe rights to human beings in respect of the specifically human capacities (such as the right to beliefs or life-style) while at the same time denying that those capacities ought to be developed.
     From: Charles Taylor (Atomism [1979], p.33)
     A reaction: Developed by whom? The agent, their family, or the state? At what point has someone got a capacity, with no further requirement to develop it? Taylor pulls rather large rabbits out of small hats.
If freedom depends on society and culture, the greatest freedom is in shaping them [Taylor,C]
     Full Idea: If realising our freedom partly depends on the society and culture in which we live, then we exercise a fuller freedom if we can help determine the shape of this society and culture.
     From: Charles Taylor (Atomism [1979], p.47)
     A reaction: This is clearly in response to the critics of communitarianism who say that it is too conservative, because your values are created for you, by your community.
24. Political Theory / D. Ideologies / 7. Communitarianism / b. Against communitarianism
Our reliance on other people close to us does not imply any political obligations [Taylor,C]
     Full Idea: We must all be nurtures by others as children, and we only flourish as adults in relationship with friends, mates, children and so on. But this has nothing to do with any obligation to belong to political society.
     From: Charles Taylor (Atomism [1979], p.42)
     A reaction: He is defending community, but not at that minimal human level. Political obligations follows from our need for a wider society, to achieve justice, education, travel, health etc. There are no rights without a society
25. Social Practice / C. Rights / 1. Basis of Rights
For most people the primacy of rights mainly concerns freedom [Taylor,C]
     Full Idea: Most of those who want to affirm the primacy of rights are more interested in asserting the right of freedom, and in a sense which can only be attributed to humans.
     From: Charles Taylor (Atomism [1979], p.40)
     A reaction: This is probably more pronounced in North America than in Europe. It may be that without freedom a lot of the other rights are impossible.
A right is not just a rule, but also asserts certain ideas of moral worth [Taylor,C]
     Full Idea: Asserting a right is more than issuing an injunction. It has an essential conceptual background, in some notion of the moral worth of certain properties or capacities, without which it would not make.
     From: Charles Taylor (Atomism [1979], p.33)
     A reaction: A simple right may arise from a contract, which could be quite trivial, and of no moral importance. The winner of the egg and spoon race has a right to the prize, which is an ice cream. I think he means legal rights in a state.
25. Social Practice / C. Rights / 4. Property rights
Property is not essential for life, but it may be essential for independence [Taylor,C]
     Full Idea: It is standardly said that we need the right to property as an essential underpinning of life, but this is patently not true. …In reality it is actually seen as an essential part of a life of independence.
     From: Charles Taylor (Atomism [1979], p.41)
     A reaction: Hence it has a high value for liberals, for whom an independent life is the prime social aspiration. The law of trespass will define the degree of independence provided by property.
25. Social Practice / E. Policies / 3. Welfare provision
If the state is neutral, there won't be sufficient community to support a welfare state [Taylor,C, by Kymlicka]
     Full Idea: Charles Taylor says the neutral [liberal] state undermines the sense of community which is required for citizens to accept the sacrifices demanded by the welfare state.
     From: report of Charles Taylor (Atomism [1979]) by Will Kymlicka - Community 'legitimacy'
     A reaction: As someone who believes in the welfare state, I think this is correct. Extreme individualistic liberalism is incompatible with a welfare state. A liberal society needs institutions which draw free individuals into the community.
26. Natural Theory / A. Speculations on Nature / 6. Early Matter Theories / d. The unlimited
The Boundless cannot exist on its own, and must have something contrary to it [Aristotle on Anaximander]
     Full Idea: Those thinkers are in error who postulate ...a single matter, for this cannot exist without some 'perceptible contrariety': this Boundless, which they identify with the 'original real', must be either light or heavy, either hot or cold.
     From: comment on Anaximander (fragments/reports [c.570 BCE]) by Aristotle - Coming-to-be and Passing-away (Gen/Corr) 329a10
     A reaction: A dubious objection, I would say. If there has to be a contrasting cold thing to any hot thing, what happens when the cold thing is removed?
Things begin and end in the Unlimited, and are balanced over time according to justice [Anaximander]
     Full Idea: The non-limited is the original material of existing things; their source is also that to which they return after destruction, according to necessity; they give justice and make reparation to each other for injustice, according to the arrangement of Time.
     From: Anaximander (fragments/reports [c.570 BCE], B1), quoted by Simplicius - On Aristotle's 'Physics' 24.13-
     A reaction: Simplicius is quoting Theophrastus
The essential nature, whatever it is, of the non-limited is everlasting and ageless [Anaximander]
     Full Idea: The essential nature, whatever it is, of the non-limited is everlasting and ageless.
     From: Anaximander (fragments/reports [c.570 BCE], B2), quoted by (who?) - where?
Anaximander introduced the idea that the first principle and element of things was the Boundless [Anaximander, by Simplicius]
     Full Idea: Anaximander said that the first principle and element of existing things was the boundless; it was he who originally introduced this name for the first principle.
     From: report of Anaximander (fragments/reports [c.570 BCE], A09) by Simplicius - On Aristotle's 'Physics' 9.24.14-
     A reaction: Simplicius is quoting Theophrastus
26. Natural Theory / A. Speculations on Nature / 6. Early Matter Theories / g. Atomism
How can things without weight compose weight? [Alexander]
     Full Idea: How could weight come about out of things composed of what is without weight?
     From: Alexander (On Aristotle's Metaphysics Book 2 [c.200], p.36.21-27)
     A reaction: This is obviously why Epicurus added weight to the features of atoms. Alexander seems unaware of this move.
27. Natural Reality / E. Cosmology / 2. Eternal Universe
The parts of all things are susceptible to change, but the whole is unchangeable [Anaximander, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: The parts of all things are susceptible to change, but the whole is unchangeable.
     From: report of Anaximander (fragments/reports [c.570 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 02.An.2
28. God / A. Divine Nature / 6. Divine Morality / d. God decrees morality
Nominalists defended the sovereignty of God against the idea of natural existing good and evil [Taylor,C]
     Full Idea: Late medieval nominalism defended the sovereignty of God as incompatible with there being an order in nature which by itself defined good and bad.
     From: Charles Taylor (Sources of the Self [1989], §3.3)
     A reaction: Part of their attack on Platonism. But what made them place such a high value on the sovereignty of God?